Girls swimming: Sectional scouting, Northwest
Girls swimming / Sectional scouting
At a glance: State qualification is Saturday at 16 sectional meets throughout the state, with diving starting at 9 a.m. and swimming at 1 p.m. For divers, the winner at each site advances automatically, and the next-best 32 scorers also will advance with at-large berths. In the swimming events, winners automatically advance -- and others can join them by equaling or bettering time standards. The goal for all is a spot in next weekend's high school state championships, to be hosted by New Trier. But even for those who aren't within reach of the ultra-tough state standards, it's an opportunity for the best performances of the season as a full taper and a fast suit have been known to work wonders.
Barrington sectionalMost of the Mid-Suburban League will be here, including the top three finishers from the recent conference meet -- in order, Barrington, Fremd and Palatine. Sure to play a prominent role with them is Stevenson, which finished second to Lake Forest by just a handful of points last weekend in the North Suburban Conference meet.
Barrington's freestyle relays are very strong, and the medley relay has a great chance to make state as well. The Fillies' strongest individual events figure to be the 200 free, where Kirsten Jacobsen and Maggie Menso will compete, and the 500 free, where Jacobsen and Maggie Emary lead the way. But there's quality throughout that Barrington lineup, and the fun will be in finding out who else earns herself a state spot. Senior sprinter Sarah Kate Capel is a returning state qualifier and will lead the sprint freestyle effort. Count Emma Graves, Bridget O'Leary and Catherine Kitzman as others with great chances to advance individually, and don't be surprised if another Barrington competitor or three makes it to state with them.
Fremd impressed at the MSL meet. Conference champ Grace Grzybek has been under the state cut in the 100 backstroke and nearly scored points in the event at state last year; she could also advance with a fast swim in the 200 IM. The Vikings also have strong relays and a young but gritty team aiming to repeat the program's habit of performing well at recent sectional meets. Rebecca Ballo (breaststroke) will also be after a repeat state-meet voyage and the Vikings have another half-dozen or so, including divers Carly Goodsite and Morgan Faulkner, who are state meet candidates.
Palatine brings top-notch senior spinter Kristin Anderson and sophomore IMer-breaststroker Ellis Nelson as its top individual state meet hopes. The Pirates have the MSL's champion 200 freestyle relay, too, and enough quality in their top competitors to generate significant team points. MSL champion Lizzie Johns will certainly be a factor in diving.
Stevenson's terrific team features conference champ Iza Pelka in the 200 free; she won it in 1:52.27 at the NSC meet. Figure on three great relays from the Patriots and individual standouts in Casey Kirby, Rachel Song, Irune Andres, Danielle Feng and Ashley Carrollo.
St. Viator's top entrant will be Jackie Rose in the 100 and 200 freestyles, but coach Jamie Klotz is looking forward to another overall fast finish after the Lions excelled in last year's sectional with mostly the same competitors as this year. Senior Elizabeth Drab won the MCAC diving title and hopes to earn a state berth.
Cary-Grove has a state hopeful in Ashlynn Baker (100 free, 200 free).
Junior sprinter Gracie Dix will lead the effort for Prospect, senior butterflyer Bailey Rowley is Rolling Meadows' top competitor, freestyler Alexa Jedryka paces Buffalo Grove and Hoffman Estates and Wheeling round out the field.
Glenbrook North sectionalThere will be no shortage of excellent swimming, as defending state champ Loyola and perennial contender New Trier lead the way in a grouping dominated by Central Suburban League schools.
Hersey will be the only MSL school competing here and has a top-notch 100 breaststroker in sophomore Olivia Kusio. She's after a second straight trip to state after winning the race in the MSL meet two weeks ago. Just to underscore how competitive the sectional is, Kusio is seeded seventh in the breaststroke, and will also race in the 200 IM. The Huskies also have a strong 400 free relay and a deep lineup, as evidenced by their MSL East championship this fall. Harboring state hopes are divers Madeline Bovino and Allie Heidrich as they will be competing in what is traditionally the state's strongest diving sectional.
Downers Grove North sectionalConant, Schaumburg, Elk Grove and Maine West join a field which figures to be led by the host Trojans, ranked No. 11 in the state by Top Times. Conant's top entrants will be senior sprinter Sam Wooley and junior Lea Cejvan (100 breaststroke); Maine West junior Julia Boesche is within range in both the 50 and 100 freestyles and Elk Grove freshman diver Anna Sprenger aims to add to her impressive debut season.
-- Aaron Gabriel